Crypto Terms Dictionary: What Do They All Mean?

The world of cryptocurrency is full of strange terms.
Let’s break them down.


The language of cryptocurrency is a strange new land for most of us, full of unfamiliar terms and complicated vocabulary. Like many things started in the digital space and first embraced by a niche subgroup, it also has an added layer of memefication and in-group lingo.


Allow me to demystify it for you. If you can learn what FWIW, ICYMI, and bae mean, you’re just one stop away from hopping on board the crypto train. Here’s a list of all the cryptocurrency terms you need to know. It’s by no means exhaustive, but it’s enough to get you started.


1. Address

An address is just that — a digital address for your cryptocurrency wallet. Just like you have a bank account and routing number that identifies what account is sending money and what account it’s being sent to, your digital address is where you send, receive, and keep your currency. It usually looks like a string of random numbers and letters, similar to the impossibly complicated password your office IT guys like to give out. Like this: 1MhN5qfH1vgx9CLL17i3DK9D2gzrHR7dZF


ex. What address should I send these LGBT Tokens to?


2. Altcoin

Shortened portmanteau of “alternative coins,” i.e. any cryptocurrency that isn’t Bitcoin (and maybe Ethereum). At the moment, Bitcoin is king of the mountain, and the uninitiated tend to use it to describe all cryptocurrency, similar to how we say we were Googling something even if we were using Bing or Yahoo! to search (Yes, I know, no one uses Bing—just humor me here) for something on the internet.


ex. Did you see that new altcoin, Dogecoin, that’s just for dogs?


3. ATH

Acronym for All-Time-High.


ex. Bitcoin is ATH. Better jump on that, fam.


4. Bagholder

Someone who is still holding on to an altcoin (or Bitcoin) after that coin rockets up in price after getting a lot of buzz and just as quickly crashing. These are the poor fools left holding the bag.


ex. You’d think that bagholder would have learned after the last time Bitcoin crashed.


5. Bearish

The expectation that the price of a cryptocurrency is going to decrease.


ex. I’d sell. The market is about to get bearish.


6. Block

Give crypto some credit. It’s still the Wild West, but that doesn’t mean a few guiding lawmen aren’t trying to give it some semblance of order. It keeps records — utterly private, but still records—and blocks are those ledger page records. Network data that can not be altered are stored in these blocks.


ex. No one can touch your personal info in this block-not even you.


7. Blockchain

Blockchain is the system that builds those block records in a decentralized network that keeps all information private and secure. Its nature is such that it allows for every person or computer to be able to control their small part of the network rather than it being controlled by one person or entity, like a corporation or centralized government. As each person adds a new record, it creates a new block in the chain (hence “blockchain” for those of you whose horses have yet to cross the finish line).


ex. Blockchain keeps all my information secure. Take that, guy who stole my identity and bought an anatomically correct blow-up doll on eBay.


8. Bullish

The expectation that the price of a cryptocurrency is going to increase.


ex. I’d invest now. The market for Ethereum is turning bullish.


9. Crypto

Has its roots in “cryptography,” but is now generally seen as being shorthand for “cryptocurrency.” Because humans love for nothing more than to do the minimum amount of work when it comes to spelling out words. So much effort.


ex. The crypto community spends an awful lot of time on Reddit.


10. Decentralization/Decentralized

As noted up in the blockchain section, the major difference between cryptocurrency and traditional currency exchange and banking systems is that those systems are held and controlled by one entity, whether that’s a bank or a central government. Decentralization is the process by which all participants in the blockchain have a stake in that blockchain; no one person or entity controls the network.


ex. The decentralized nature of blockchain means a crazy president toying with nuclear threats can’t tank the entire system.


11. Exchange

A website where one can buy or sell or trade cryptocurrency estate. It’s like a stock exchange, but for crypto.


ex. Ripple is trading high on the exchange, yo.


12. Fiat currency

Currency that a government has declared to be a legal tender, but not backed by a physical commodity (i.e. gold). Most modern paper currencies are fiat currencies.


ex. You sure have a lot of, uh, fiat currencies in your wallet… Okay, I didn’t have a good, real-world example of this because this is not a thing regular people say outside of regulatory boards and finance geeks. Let’s be real.


13. FOMO

Fear Of Missing Out—when everyone rushes to buy into a crypto currency because there’s a lot of buzz and they’re afraid of missing an opportunity. This is your worst enemy. Just like that time in junior high when Katie Rollings peer-pressured you into drinking too much Boone’s Farm and you ended up throwing up all over Brent Smith, do not cave to peer pressure when buying crypto.


ex. Oh man, I have such FOMO but last time I bought too much crypto, it crashed and I was screwed. Not today, Satan!


14. Fork

Not to be confused with what Eleanor Shellstrop says in place of the f-bomb on The Good Place. This kind of fork is a split in the the blockchain that creates a new branch. This usually happens when new consensus rules about governance are inserted into the blockchain’s code. Like I said, the Wild West, but not entirely lawless.


ex. The coders put new rules about who can trade on the blockchain, so we’re on a new fork now. Fork yeah!


15. FUD/FUDsters

Acronym for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. It’s the act of spreading negative, false information about a cryptocurrency with the intention of dropping its price. FUDsters are the dicks of the crypto world, basically.


ex. FUDsters drove the price down again. Dicks.


16. Halving

Halving is the act of reducing the rewards you get for mining after a certain number of blocks. It’s an effort to combat mining abuse (see below) and even the playing field.


ex. Bitcoin is halving returns after the 21,000th block to slow down mining.


17. HODL

Acronym for Holding On for Dear Life, the practice that’s currently keeping most cryptocurrencies from being practical for every day use. Most crypto buyers hold onto their crypto rather than using it in the hopes that its value will increase later. Basically, a dude was drunk-posting in a crypto forum, made a typo when he meant to type “hold,” and the rest is history—as it so often goes with the internet.


ex. I’m hodling onto this Ethereum until they pry it from my cold, dead fingers.


18. ICO

Acronym for Initial Coin Offering. It’s a means to raise funds for a new cryptocurrency venture by which a portion of that currency is released for early backers and partners to buy with legal, fiat tender—you know, “real money,” as the uninitiated would call it.


ex. As soon as LGBT Token holds its ICO, imma be all over that like a Kardashian on a selfie.


19. Market cap

The total value of a particular cryptocurrency. It’s calculated by multiplying the current price of a single unit of that crypto by the entire number of units that exist.


ex. “The market cap for Bitcoin is ATH. I should have invested earlier,” (he says, sadly eating his Top Ramen).


20. Mining

The long version of this definition involves a lot of complicated tech jargon that I won’t get into right now. A miner is essentially a chip that allows coins to be generated at a much higher and faster rate than a computer would normally allow. Compare it to that one friend of yours in college who made a killing with his side-hustle building hacks that farmed gold in World of Warcraft.


ex. I built a rig for mining coins. Imma be rich if they don’t start halving.


21. Mooning

No, it’s not showing off your delightful rear goods. Rather, this is the term for when the price of a particular crypto shoots up astronomically—i.e. its value jumps “over the moon.”


ex. Ripple is mooning right now. Lol at bagholders who don’t sell before it falls.

22. Programmable Money

The benefit of having “programmable money” vs having a separate program that simply sends and receives currency that with a program that the person who runs the program has control over what happens to the money. With programmable money you can set up rules that are enforced by the money itself, smart contracts.


ex. Ethereum is a global, decentralized platform for money and new kinds of applications. On Ethereum, you can write code that controls money, and build applications accessible anywhere in the world.


23. Pump and dump

Poor bagholders. This is the chain of events that gets them there: A particular cryptocurrency is hyped up, its value shoots up when everyone jumps on board, then it crashes. Essentially, the crypto is pumped up then quickly dumped by its holders, sending its value plummeting. It’s a major problem in the crypto world right now and one that needs to be addressed if the crypto economy has any chance of being stable and viable.


ex. Oh, yeah. Dogecoin is being way overhyped. Pump and dump for sure.


24. Signature

It’s a piece of information, or a “key,” that allows a user to protect their personal information while proving they are the owner of a certain wallet or cryptocurrency-just like your signature on a document. These keys are kept completely private and untraceable; only the owner has access.


ex. Once I have your signature, I can finish the transaction.


25. Smart contract

A set of conditions coded right into the blockchain that both parties agree to when using that blockchain, similar to a binding legal contract in the physical world. It creates parameters around exchanges, like “A can sell to B, but only if conditions X, Y, and Z are met.” It’s a means of ensuring that all transactions are conducted in good faith and those participating are in good standing and can’t cheat the system.


ex. The network employed some new smart contracts to weed out anyone trying to cheat. That’s dope.


26. Wallet

The same as your physical wallet, just digital. It’s where you hold your crypto, and from where you pay out for transactions and receive. Kind of like a Venmo or PayPal, but more secure.


ex. I have so many funds in my crypto wallet I’m feeling like a digital Drake right now.


This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to crypto-specific terms. If you have others that I haven’t listed here, feel free to let us know.


The LGBT Foundation aims to capitalize on the potential of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency for the good of the global LGBT community. For more information, visit our website and follow us on Twitter.